I don’t think the topic of wedding guests taking photos at weddings will ever have a unanimous agreement of the masses, but I thought I would offer my perspective, as a wedding photographer. Before I dive into the topic, I wanted to tell you that it’s customary for a wedding photographer’s contract to state that no other photographers are to be working when you hired them. How each photographer interprets and enforces this clause will vary.
I don’t care if wedding guests take photos-
I don’t consider the average wedding guest with their phone or camera taking some photos to be another photographer working. It’s the norm in our culture. I’m documenting the day as it happens for the couple, and the last thing I want to do is affect the guests’ experience. Most people understand that the couple invested a handsome sum of money to hire me and they don’t interfere with my work. I think it helps that my couples value my work because I’m hand picked and one of their key investments.
What about guests or relatives with pro cameras?
Same principle applies. I’m more concerned with behavior than I am equipment. Every once in a while, I’ll encounter a guest or family member with a full rig, as an attempt to fill the shoes of a hired pro, with their frequency of shooting. That’s what the difference is between someone acting as a photographer vs. wedding guests taking photos. Usually, those people are intrusive, and probably aren’t accomplishing anything. But that’s beside the point. Maybe they’re trying to build a wedding photography portfolio at someone else’s expense, maybe they think they’re helping (they’re not), who knows. But the last thing I want to do is to say anything to them, as they are still the couples’ guest. I’ve only had to, as professionally and politely, but directly as possible, maybe three times in the past 6 years.
Yes, it’s the job of the pro to work around the event. I don’t mind that. When you have an inexperienced shutterbug who has no clue about etiquette, that can sabotage the working pro you hired. Wedding guests taking photos are great. But I’d advise telling any click happy shutterbugs to come as a guest and celebrate with you, as you’ve hired a pro to do the work.